Fibropapillomatosis, Chelonia mydas;
Fibropapillomatosis (FP) is a tumor-forming disease mainly found in juvenile green turtles (Chelonia mydas) inhabiting Florida's east coast. Despite increased research on the herpes virus that putatively causes it, long-term assessment is still needed of the distribution and severity of FP. Using the decades-long database compiled by the University of Central Florida Marine Turtle Research Group, I determined FP severity and distribution at three different sites: Indian River Lagoon (IRL), Sabellariid Worm Reef (SWR) and Trident Submarine Basin (TSB). Fibropapillomatosis occurred in >50% of IRL turtles, 18% of SWR turtles and <1% of TSB turtles. Regression of FP tumors was correlated with its prevalence, i.e. when and where FP was common, tumor regression was common. The probability of a turtle being non-afflicted or mildly afflicted increased with both increasing straight-line carapace length (SCL) and increasing relative body condition (residuals of log body mass versus log SCL). Mean annual growth rates of IRL and SWR turtles did not vary with FP severity; however, mean annual growth rates in IRL (1.10 cm/y) were significantly higher than in SWR (1.05 cm/y) and TSB (1.04 cm/y). Annual apparent survival estimates for IRL and TSB turtles were 0.72 and 0.73, respectively, and were constant over time. Even with increased prevalence of FP, annual apparent survival estimates were constant and similar to survival estimates of juvenile green turtles in areas without FP. In IRL, survival rates among FP Categories 0, 1 and 2 were similar (0.74, 0.74 and 0.81 respectively) and lower only for FP Category 3 (0.63). Thus, while FP occurred in >50% of turtles in some Florida east coast populations, their annual apparent survival only declined in advanced cases (FP Category 3). These data suggest 1) FP afflicts smaller or younger turtles, 2) larger juveniles, sub-adults and adults are either non-afflicted or possibly recover from this disease, and 3) annual apparent survival rates of green turtle populations are independent of FP prevalence except when tumor growth is extreme.
Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Borrowman, Kelly, "Prevalence And Severity Of Fibropapillomatosis In Juvenile Green Turtles (chelonia Mydas) In Three Habitats On Florida's Eas" (2008). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 3449.